Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tracy Gardner Beno Guest blogs + The Fall of Our Secrets Review





Blurb: 


Laura and Nicole, childhood friends separated by mysterious circumstances, meet again quite by accident and renew their friendship. 
Laura is a devoted single mom. She's stuck in a going nowhere relationship, but doesn't realize it until she meets Adam, her newly dubbed Airport Hottie, on the flight home after spending a whirlwind weekend with Nicole. 
Nicole is now married to the man of her dreams, but she carries deep wounds from a childhood filled with secrets, constantly afraid to trust any true happiness she encounters. 
Together these two best friends work toward uncovering the long buried secrets of Nicole's horrific past, ultimately freeing her to believe in and embrace the new life she's worked so hard to create. The friendship nurtures both women and Laura finds her own self confidence and the revelation that what she needs is within reach, hers for the taking. 
THE FALL OF OUR SECRETS takes the reader on a hopeful journey of love and discovery.'  


GUEST POST:


I wear a lot of hats. Most of us know what it’s like to spend our days playing several different roles. Mine include Mom, Wife, Writer, Nurse, Taxi, Food and Housing Supplier, Fashion Consultant, Pet Caretaker, Seamstress, and so on and so forth. We juggle. Sometimes we fumble. So how do we fit it all into one day?
I discovered a great strategy a little while ago, in a Hugh Grant movie of all places. My kids and I sat down to watch About A Boy. Actually, I made them sit down to watch with me, something I’ve done with other classics of my time like What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Breakfast Club and Castaway, to name a few. They gripe at first, figuring any movie Mom chooses will be lame. They should know better by now, as they inevitably get drawn in and end up loving my picks. In About a Boy, Hugh Grant plays Will, a self-absorbed bachelor whose life is basically invaded by a very sweet, awkward and needy boy named Marcus. I could write volumes about the shallow, egotistical guy who transforms, excessively slowly and stubbornly throughout the movie, into an actual good guy, but that’s not what I’m writing about today.
Hugh Grant’s character has kind of a genius idea: units of time. We all have an allotted amount of time each day to do what we need to do. Without even meaning to, most of us break our day into a series of sections, and we know about how long each will take. We know that the parent-teacher conference this evening will take about an hour = 1 unit of time. Maybe we need to take the daughter ballet shoe shopping = 2 units of time, as the store is so darn far away. But luckily tonight there is no laundry to do, and we are ordering pizza for dinner, which frees up a couple units of time to fit those things in.
If anyone ever invents a formula for squeezing more hours into the day, they could make millions marketing it to working moms. And by working moms, I mean all moms. And women in general. I’m sure men would be interested too. I think it comes with the territory of being an adult, this frantic zipping around to make sure reports get submitted on time, bills are paid, the refrigerator is stocked, kid 1 makes it to Football and kid 2 makes it to Dance and the dog’s seizure medicine gets picked up and fundraiser supplies get dropped off and the oil is changed in the car and something appears on the table for dinner and homework gets done and everyone has clean underwear for tomorrow.
Tired yet? I am! So, in the absence of a magic formula to multiply the hours in a day or slow the hands of the clock, how do we get it all done? I’ll let you in on a secret: It gets done. No matter how much we stress about it, yell and whine about it, or even make the mistake of sitting down on the couch for a minute and falling asleep before it’s all done, it still gets done. Eventually. And the important stuff (picking up kid 2 from dance, for instance, as she really doesn’t want to sleep there) gets done now. We find a way.
Which brings me back to the units of time idea. Since I’ve been writing more seriously in the last year, and have actual deadlines to deal with now, I’ve had to become smarter managing my time. Delegate, prioritize, and buckle down. That’s my own personal formula. Didn’t know it was my formula until I sat down to think about how I organize the things on my to-do list, but it really is.
Delegation is my weak spot. You know, it’s that “it’ll be quicker if I just do it myself” mindset. But there is something supremely satisfying about assigning one of your minions children a task and then seeing it completed. Even if it’s only to feed the hamster every night. Or to take the trash out. And in every partnership, whether it’s a parent / child, a husband / wife, or an indispensable-grandma-or-friend / single mom partnership, I believe there is always one half who is the detail-keeper, the person who knows what time the Vet appointment is and when the property taxes are due. That person is frequently me, so I also get to delegate to the other adult in my household. Awesome husband is happy to take the dog to the Vet if I just let him know when. He’s also great at recognizing grocery shopping for what it really is: a huge thief of my units of time. Plus he loves grocery shopping -- win!
            Having the trip to the Vet taken off my plate now frees up a couple units of time! Oh joy! What impulsive, super fun thing might I choose to fill these suddenly available units of time? Well, let’s check the list. And prioritize. One thing I am fantastic at is having the perspective to know what can wait. Laundry can wait. If we have to, we will find the socks and underwear we each need, and leave the rest of the entire four-load pile sitting there an extra day. It waits for me (sitting with my son watching an episode of The Walking Dead is a great time to fold laundry, as long as I don’t tear my eyes away from the screen for too long!). Laundry waits. Dishes wait. Vacuuming waits. Writing work due to an agent or editor doesn’t wait. Helping kids with homework doesn’t wait. Charting for my day job doesn’t wait. Prioritizing is key, and also leads to a messy house, but that’s fixable. I guess if you’re not the type who can tolerate a temporarily messy house, you’ll find something less important to move down the list, and free up a unit of time to clean.
The last step in my nifty three-part formula is to buckle down. Believe it or not, it takes great discipline to leave those dishes in the sink in order to sit down at the computer and work on a blog post or article. Once I get rolling, I forget all about them. But it’s the initial rebellious act of leaving them undone, especially to do something I enjoy! Anything related to writing is enjoyable for me, especially having a block of a few hours and diving into a new manuscript … that’s pure heaven. That does require at least a few units of time clumped together, and I’m getting better at isolating those. Frequently, they happen late in the evening, but as long as I can schedule them in, I’m happy.
I know the system works for me. I know because once in a while I’ll have an off day. Like last week when I woke up late and everything went to shit from there. Normally, I hit the ground running, but there is such a thing as the domino effect, and by the time I made it to work an hour late after an extra stop to drop off a vital item for kid 1 and an unplanned round trip back home with the dog food I forgot to buy the night before, I was exhausted. And it was 9 am. Then I realized I’d forgotten my coffee on the kitchen table. Kick me when I’m down, why don’t you? It was a terrible day. I felt like Alexander in that movie. Not exactly sure how it happened, but suddenly it was 9 pm, and where had all my time gone? With miles to go before I slept (or at least seven more tasks to finish), I gave in to the reality that my units of time were absent that day. Maybe lying crumpled up under my faulty alarm clock, who knows. Consequently, the laundry pile grew bigger. The dust bunnies under the table had a chance to multiply, at least until tomorrow. But homework did get done, we each got our hugs and family time for the millisecond we’re all in the same room together, and at the end of the day, I even found an extra unit (okay, so I swapped out a unit of sleep) so I could finish that chapter I was working on. Happiness with my writing life always trumps sleep.
I’m sure there are other formulas out there. I like the units of time concept. It works for me. I’m always curious to see what works for everyone else. I’d love to see comments and thoughts on that!
Thank you so much for hosting me today!  




REVIEW RATING: 4 LIGHTNING BOLTS


REVIEW:  Do you ever have that one friend who up and left from your life with little word and never knew why? Someone who meant the world to you, but maybe they had a troubled past or things you never knew about?  I'm sure looking back, there's a few in my life that I wonder "What happened to them?"  Well, in this novel, The Fall of Our Secrets, two best friends reconnect after a chance meeting and while catching up, they begin to unravel the past.

This book revolves around Laura and Nicole, childhood best friends until Nicole disappeared. Laura has always thought about her. Nicole's past had quite a bit of trouble in terms of her family, and Laura is only beginning to understand just how bad things were.

This book is full of mystery and a wonderful foundation of friends reconnecting. There's a little bit of romance as well, but it's not the main focus on the story. I couldn't put this book down! I loved the reconnecting of these two characters, and the mystery element. There are plenty of emotions and things to surprise the reader. I can't wait to read more by this author! 






Author Bio  

Tracy Gardner Beno is a Metro Detroit native who has lived in and around small, rural communities like those described in The Fall of Our Secrets. Her stories draw readers in with recognizable characters and real emotion, seasoned with intrigue and a dash of humor. She loves spending time with her husband and two children, reading, writing, and catching her favorite bands in concert as often as possible. She works as a Registered Nurse in her day job and when she's not writing novels she contributes short stories and articles to Verite Magazine where she's a staff writer.

Amazon listing (buy the book): http://tinyurl.com/md4keuj



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When I Dream Of You



Synopsis

Nina Archer battles memories of a trauma that occurred twelve years ago. With plans to move to North Carolina, she hopes to separate herself from her mother, whose excessive drinking is becoming unbearable. Then suddenly, fate steps in to help her heal in a way she would never think possible. While running a race in Juno Beach, Nina finds herself next to a man whom she’s immediately attracted to. Wes Ladner, the same man she dreamt about one year ago. Wes is focused on his writing, and has no time for a woman. But the night before they met, he dreamt of Nina. Although they come from two very different worlds neither of them can deny the sparks that fly between them. As her time runs out to make a decision, Nina wonders if she’s been given the chance to come to terms with her past, and accept a gift that some never receive—true love.

Buy Links

 Limitless Publishing: http://bit.ly/1v53IEM





About the Author

Rosa Sophia divides her time between South Florida and Pennsylvania. She edits for publishers and independent clients, holds a degree in Automotive Technology, and enjoys running, hiking, collecting comic books, and traveling.

Hosted By:



Interview with Maya Banks





I am SO excited today to bring you an interview with Maya Banks!  


Tell me about yourself, and your writing.
I live in Texas (total southern girl!) with my husband and three teenagers and my “babies,” my Maine Coon DARLINGS whom I ADORE.

I’ve been writing with the intent/pursuit of a CAREER in writing since 2002 but didn’t get my first contract until 2006 and suddenly I had TWO publishers I contracted with within a month of one another.


 How long have you been writing? How many published books do you have, and what genres?

As stated above, I BEGAN writing in 2002, received my first contracts in 2006, published my first book with one publisher in 2006 (I actually published 3 that year with that first publisher) but my first contract with a major publisher, though it was signed in 2006, it didn’t publish until September 2007. By that time I had more than half a dozen stories at my other publisher under my belt.


 Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?

Oh I absolute write across SEVERAL genres. I write in straight contemporary, contemporary erotic romance, contemporary romantic suspense, romantic suspense with psychic elements, Scottish historicals and even a few paranormals toward the beginning of my career just because I loved the story ideas that came to me and so I wrote them.

And no, I’ve written in every genre I can conceivable think that I would WANT to write in, so I don’t see me adding anything further to my repertoire, but I also NEVER say never!


 Are you a plotter or do you write from the seat of your pants?

Definitely NOT a plotter where every single aspect of the story is planned and charted out from beginning to end because if it was I’d never write the book because I’d be bored out of my MIND.


 What is a typical writing day like for you?

There IS no “typical” writing day for me. I never have any two days the same. Sometimes I write all day, take a break when my family gets home, spend time with them but then stay up late after they’ve gone to bed and work some more. Writing isn’t a job I can “leave” as though I had a 9-5 job where I left my house and once I got home I leave work at work. Since I DO work at home, I’m at the mercy of my constant thinking of the story I’m working on and I often have entire passages come to me and I have to drop EVERYTHING and get those words down or risk forgetting them if I don’t immediately make note of them.


 Who do you love to read? Favorite authors, favorite books?

I have several authors I call my “comfort” reads, which means I read and RE-READ their books over and over again because A. I know I’ll read something I love and B. they’re COMFORT reads which is sometimes exactly what I NEED coming off a difficult deadline.

SOME of my “comfort reads/authors” are

Christine Feehan
Julie Garwood
Nalini Singh
Kresley Cole
Kristen Ashley
Older Sharon Sala books
Older Linda Howard books
Older Elizabeth Lowell books
Vintage Jayne Ann Krentz novels


 What is something you'd like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
I’d like to reach MORE readers while still ensuring my CURRENT readers stay happy with my books. I’d love to hit the #1 spot on the bestseller lists a 3rd time just well because! LOL


 If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
Mind reading because I’m nosy ;)


 If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?
Hmm I ADORE cheetahs but I guess they don’t fall under mystical or paranormal creatures but honestly I wouldn’t want a werewolf or vampire. I’m a chicken!


 Tell us a little about your latest release.
Keep Me Safe is a LONG awaited story for me. I’ve wanted to write this story and book 3 for SO long. I’ve had those two stories in my head for YEARS. But a concise peek (and I’m not very concise!) is that Ramie has psychic abilities, unique abilities, that enable her to track kidnapping victims by touching an object belonging to the victim. She makes a connection to them, but the downside is that she experiences every thing the victim does once she makes that connection. Everything. So it’s rather horrifying. She’s an empath who is only able to feel or detect the evil in people. Never the good. So her “gift” is more of a curse since she’s never able to feel the GOOD.

Caleb hunts her down when his sister is abducted and they’ve exhausted all leads. He knows he’s racing against the clock and when Ramie refuses because she’s at her breaking point, he “forces” her compliance by shoving his sister’s scarf into her hands and holding her hands around it. And promptly sends her to hell.

Horrified by what he’s done, he’s determined to make it up to her. But she disappears and no amount of searching on his part is able to unearth her. Until she contacts him a year later because she’s in terrible danger and doesn’t know who else to turn to.

And well, thus begins their journey :)




 What is something that you absolutely can't live without? (Other than family members)
My laptop!


 Could you ever co author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?

I’m a control freak and I don’t really play well with others. I think a co-author would likely KILL me in the process lol. So I don’t think it would be a very good idea… BUT if I was ever to do one, I think I’d like to pair up with Dee Tenorio or Kristen Ashely


 If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them? 
Jesus and well, EVERYTHING lol


 What are some of your other hobbies outside of writing?
Traveling, hunting, fishing, playing poker, spur of the moment trips to Vegas, and most of all spending time with and hanging out with my family.


 What is something you've always wanted to do, but haven't done yet. Why not?
I’ve always wanted to watch the Aspens turn and see them at the height of their color and I have NO idea WHY I haven’t done it yet. I say EVERY year I want to but when they’re at their peak I just never have the time and am always CRAZY busy with work! Maybe one day….*sigh*


 If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to movie, what would you pick?
My KGI series :)


 What is a talent you wish you had, but don't? 
Patience. And crafty creativity but I suck at it ugh


             Favorite color?  Orange


 Weather: Hot or cold?  Cold


 Favorite place to read? In bed


 Favorite meal  My husband’s homemade stir fry/Asian fajitas YUM


 Favorite non-alcoholic drink.  Strawberry slushie :) (Or grape with do in a pinch!)


 If you could travel anywhere and do anything, no limits or money holding you back, where would you go?
To Finland to the igloo hotel room with the completely glass in ceiling so you can lie down on the bed and watch the Aurora Borealis. I SO want to do this one day!






Keep Me Safe   
Slow Burn # 1
By: Maya Banks
Releasing October 7th, 2014
Avon


Blurb
A sizzling story of a woman who risks her life and her heart to find a wealthy man’s missing sister—the first novel in a sexy new romantic suspense series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks
When Caleb Devereaux's younger sister is kidnapped, this scion of a powerful and wealthy family turns to an unlikely source for help: a beautiful and sensitive woman with a gift for finding answers others cannot.
While Ramie can connect to victims and locate them by feeling their pain, her ability comes with a price. Every time she uses it, it costs her a piece of herself. Helping the infuriatingly attractive and impatient Caleb successfully find his sister nearly destroys her. Even though his sexual intensity draws her like a magnet, she needs to get as far away from him as she can.
Deeply remorseful for the pain he’s caused, Caleb is determined to make things right. But just when he thinks Ramie's vanished forever, she reappears. She’s in trouble and she needs his help. Now, Caleb will do risk everything to protect her—including his heart. . . .



Buy Links


Author Info   
Maya Banks is a #1 USA Today and New York Times bestselling author whose chart toppers have included erotic romance, romantic suspense, contemporary romance, Scottish historical romances. She is the author of the Breathless Trilogy, the KGI novels, the Sweet series, and the Colters Legacy novels.

She lives in the South with her husband and three children and other assorted babies, such as her two Bengal kitties and a Calico who’s been with her as long as her youngest child. She’s an avid reader of romance and loves to dish books with her fans and anyone else who’ll listen! She very much enjoys interacting with her readers on Facebook and Twitter as well as in her Yahoo! Group.

Author Links







Chapter 1

Caleb Devereaux turned out of the sharp switchback and onto the driveway leading up to the tiny mountain cabin, swearing when he hit pothole after pothole. Fury and impatience simmered in his blood but the anticipation of having finally found Ramie St. Claire after an exhaustive search kept his mood from being completely black.
Ramie was his sister, Tori’s, only hope.
The moment Tori was kidnapped, Caleb had begun his search for Ramie St. Claire. She certainly wasn’t the first person on most people’s go-to list when looking for a loved one. Ramie was psychic and had been helpful in locating victims in the past. While many would be skeptical, Caleb absolutely believed in Ramie’s abilities.
His own sister had psychic abilities.
He and his brothers, Beau and Quinn, had always been extremely overprotective of their baby sister. With good reason. Caleb was the head of a veritable empire. Security was always top priority. They’d always feared kidnapping for ransom, but in their worst nightmares they’d never imagined that Tori would simply disappear and be at the mercy of a madman.
There’d been no ransom demand. Simply a video of Tori bound hand and foot and the maniacal laughter of her captor as he told Caleb to kiss his sister goodbye.
He just prayed he wasn’t too late. God, don’t let it be too late for Tori.
It infuriated him that Ramie St. Claire had simply dropped off the map three months ago. No trace of her, no forwarding address. No evidence that she even existed. How could she simply disappear when she was such an invaluable aid in finding kidnap victims and missing persons? How selfish of her to simply refuse, by her actions, to help anyone?
He’d worked himself into a rage by the time he finally pulled up to the small cabin that looked as though it wouldn’t weather the upcoming winter at all. He wasn’t even certain there would be electricity. Only a person determined not to be found would live in a place like this.
He got out and strode to the ramshackle front door, his fist up and pounding. The door shook and rattled under the force of his knock. Only silence greeted him and it sent his blood pressure soaring.
“Miss St. Claire!” he roared. “Answer the goddamn door!”
He beat on the door again, shouting again for her to answer. He likely looked and sounded like the madman holding his sister, but at this point he didn’t care. He was beyond desperation. It had taken every resource available to him to finally track Ramie down. No way in hell he was leaving until he’d gotten the information he’d come for.
Then the door swung open and he was greeted by the sight of a petite woman with wary, gray eyes. He was momentarily taken aback, going silent as he stared at Ramie St. Claire for the first time in person.
The photos he’d seen of her didn’t do her justice. There was a delicate air to her as though she were recovering from an illness, but it in no way detracted from her beauty. She looked…fragile. He felt a brief moment of guilt for what he was about to ask her to do, but he brushed it away. There was no price too high to pay for his sister’s life.
“I can’t help you.”
Her softly spoken words slid like velvet over his ears, a direct contrast from the anger her refusal caused. He hadn’t even made his request yet and she was already giving him the brush-off.
“You don’t even know what it is I want,” he said in an icy tone that would wither most people.
“It’s rather obvious,” she said wearily, fatigue drooping her eyelids. “Why else would you come all this way? I don’t even want to know how you found me. It’s obvious I did a piss poor job of covering my tracks if you managed to find me here.”
Caleb frowned. Had she been ill? Was that why she’d dropped out of sight so she could recover? It didn’t matter why now that he’d found her. He didn’t care what her reasons were.
“With your abilities why would you purposely make yourself difficult to find?” he demanded. “My sister’s life is at stake here, Miss St. Claire. I’m not merely asking you to help me. I’m not leaving until you do.”
She shook her head adamantly, fear chasing the lethargy from her eyes. “I can’t.”
There was quiet desperation to her words that told him there was more to her refusal than what appeared on the surface. Something was wrong and yet he couldn’t summon any regret for forcing her compliance. Not when Tori’s life hung in the balance.
He reached inside his jacket and pulled out Tori’s scarf. The one item they’d found at the sight where she must have been taken. In the parking lot of a grocery store beside the open door of her car. He should have never let her go alone. He’d failed her. Failed to protect her. Failed to ensure proper security.
Ramie immediately backed away, a desperate cry on her lips. He shoved forward, forcing the scarf into her hands and holding her and the scarf so there was no escape. She emitted a broken sob and she looked up at him, stricken, her face going unnaturally pale. Her pupils flared and then clouded, pain and devastation clearly outlined on her features.
“No,” she whispered. “Not again. Oh God, not again. I won’t survive it.”
Her knees buckled and she would have gone down, but he caught her, ensuring the scarf never lost contact with her hands. He watched in horror as Ramie’s body sagged, slipping from his grasp despite his best effort to support her weight. She was simply lifeless, as limp as a rag doll. He quickly followed her down to the floor, determined that she not lose her grip on Tori’s scarf. But it didn’t seem to matter now. Ramie was somewhere else.
Her eyes glazed over and her body began to twitch spasmodically. She curled into a fetal position, the fragility of such a self-protective measure gutting him. She moaned softly and then began to weep.
“Please don’t hurt me again. Please, I’m begging you. I can’t take any more. If you’re going to kill me, just do it. Quit torturing me.”
Chill bumps spread rapidly up Caleb’s nape as Ramie’s voice, which sounded nearly identical to Tori’s, filled his ears. Dear God, was he witnessing what was happening to his sister through Ramie?
The scene Ramie was painting was horrifying. Not only for the fact that his sister was even now enduring the absolute worse. But from all appearances, Ramie was suffering with her.
He’d certainly done his research on Ramie St. Claire’s abilities but there was little information beyond her astonishing success record. No mention of how she managed to help victims or what it did to her. God help them all. What had he done?
Her body jerked and it took only a moment for Caleb to realize what was happening. It was too unmistakable. Bile rose in his throat and he had to suck in steadying breaths to keep from heaving the contents of his stomach on the floor. Tears burned his eyelids as he helplessly watched his sister being raped through the window of Ramie’s awareness.
Ramie’s weeping tore at his heart and he gathered her into his arms, not knowing what else to do but rock her gently. “Tori?” He whispered his sister’s name experimentally, not knowing if a link had been established through Ramie. “Can you hear me? It’s Caleb. Tell me where you are, honey. I’ll come for you. Hold on please. Don’t give up, no matter how bad it is.”
Ramie’s head jerked sideways and the imprint of a hand immediately appeared on her cheek. Caleb was horrified, unsure of what to do now that he’d crossed a line he couldn’t come back from. He tried to push back his guilt, telling himself that anything that helped him recover his sister was worth it. But was torturing an innocent woman worth it?
He hadn’t given her a choice. She’d told him no and yet he’d forced this on her not knowing the heavy toll it would take. He had no idea how her powers worked and now that he did he was sick to his soul. No wonder she’d been so resistant. No wonder she’d told him she couldn’t do it anymore.
“Ramie. Ramie!” he said in a more forceful voice. “Come back to me, Ramie. Come back so you can tell me how to find her.”
Ramie’s eyes were opened but so distant that he knew she wasn’t here. The imprint of the hand on her face was bright and vivid, red against deathly white skin. There was a look of such defeat and despair in her eyes that once again he found himself battling tears.
Suddenly she hunched inward, her entire body jolting as though absorbing a blow. She wrapped her arms around her stomach and he realized that she’d been kicked. Or rather Tori had been kicked. It was a horrific, helpless feeling to know that two women were being victimized, one because of him.
Then she simply rolled away, her cheek lying against the cold floor, her eyes fixed and vacant. She was completely still and terror gripped him. Was Tori dead? Oh dear God! Had he just witnessed his sister’s murder?
“Ramie! Wake up! God, please wake up. Tell me how to find her. Tell me that she’s still alive!”
He picked Ramie’s slight weight up, swearing because she was so thin and fragile, weighing nothing in his arms. He carried her to the worn sofa and carefully laid her down, not wanting to hurt her any more than she’d already been hurt.
He sat on the edge, gathering her icy hands in his, rubbing, trying to infuse warmth. He had no idea what to do. Should he take her to a hospital?
Then after several long moments, she blinked and seemed to come out of her trance. Pain immediately swamped her features and she began to silently weep again, each tear cutting him to ribbons.
“Is she still alive?” he asked anxiously. “Do you know how to find her?”
“Yes,” Ramie said dully.
Hope surged in his heart and he found himself nearly crushing her hands in his.
“Tell me where,” he urged.
Slowly and painfully she whispered the location down to the minutest detail. Chills once again slithered up his spine at the precision in which she described not only the location but the kidnapper. She even provided a license plate number.
He picked up his phone and immediately called his brother, relaying the information that Ramie had provided. When he was done, he stared helplessly down at Ramie, grateful and yet deeply regretful for what he’d just subjected her to.
“What do I need to do to help you?” he asked softly.
Resignation dulled her eyes even further. “There’s nothing you can do,” she said in a flat voice. “Just go.”
“The hell I’ll just leave you here!”
He was already calculating in his head that he could simply bring her with him. He could get her the care she so obviously needed at the same time Tori was receiving what she needed.
“Your sister needs you. Just go. I’ll be fine.”
The lie was so obvious, but it seemed to be all she could muster. He was torn between rushing to be with Tori and staying to ensure Ramie would be all right. But how could she be? Two women would live with this for the rest of their lives. His precious sister and the woman he’d forced to help him never knowing the price she’d pay.
“Please,” she begged, her voice breaking. “Just go and leave me be. I gave you what you wanted. I helped you, now go. It’s the least you can do.”
Caleb stood, wiping a hand over his hair and down the back of his neck in agitation. “I’ll go, but I’m coming back, Ramie. I’m going to make this up to you.”
“You can never take this back,” she whispered. “There’s no making up for what’s been done. Just go and take care of your sister. She needs you.”
She closed her eyes, tears seeping from her eyelids. How could he just leave her like she asked? And yet how could he not go and ensure that his sister was safely recovered? He’d never felt so torn in his life.
“If you have any humanity whatsoever, you’ll leave and never tell anyone where you found me,” Ramie said hoarsely. “Please, I’m begging you. Just go. He plans to kill her tomorrow. At dawn. You don’t have much time.”
Her words proved to be the impetus, driving him to action. But goddamn it, he would make this up to her. Somehow, someway.
Regret swamped him. Worse was the fact that even knowing now what he hadn’t known before, he couldn’t say he would have done anything differently. Not when it meant the difference between Tori’s life and death. But at least now he better understood Ramie’s resistance. No longer did he look at her and think she was selfish and cruel. Now he realized her disappearance had been self-preservation. He didn’t know she’d survived this in the past. He just prayed he wasn’t the tipping point in pushing her so far over the edge she’d never recover.
Caleb closed his eyes and then gently touched her cheek. “I’m so sorry. You’ll never know how much. My family and I owe you more than I can ever repay. I’ll go for now and pray to God I’m not too late. But I’m coming back, Ramie. Count on it. I’ll make this up to you if it’s the very last thing I do.”





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